Wrapping Up the Week

Wrapping Up the Week

Another week in the busy world of tech has come to a close. This week has been a banner week for business and law relating to technology. The Supreme Court has begun to strike down “do it on a computer” patents which will have huge ramifications for all of the patent trolls out there who have been hassling small and medium-sized businesses. Some of the big media companies are being warned that they can’t get away with violating patents as well. Gaming and tech journalists are being called out for dishonest reporting in the wake of GamerGate and Apple has had a good week with many announcements about iOS 8 and the new Apple Watch.

All of these stories and more were featured on our Twitter feed this week. However, if you’re not following us on Twitter we will replay the highlights for you below!

That’s all for this week, everyone. Have a great weekend and see you again next week.

iOS 8 And A Look Back

Apple has just released iOS8 for download. iOS8 works on iPad 2 or later and iPhone 4s or later. Earlier generation devices will not be able to install the update or run apps that require iOS8 to work. This update features improved security — something vital considering the recent photo leaks from iOS devices and the iCloud — as well as improved camera features (the iPhone is one of the most common lower-end cameras being used), SMS and voice call capabilities for iPads and MacOS computers, better communication between iOS devices for apps, group conversations using just and video, interactive notifications, improved Send Last Location to help you find your lost iOS device, Home Kit, and split-screen mode.

Much has changed since the first generation if iOS devices back in 2007. iOS was built on top of a UNIX architecture, one of Steve Job’s many innovations when it came to MacOSes. Instead of struggling to maintain an ancient codebase and re-invent the wheel at every turn, Apple was able to establish a stable kernel and core OS that they could build upon. This smaller, lighter, and more flexible operating system made it much easier for Apple to build their walled garden using iTunes to publish music, video, books, and apps that could run on mobile devices. The OSes small size and smaller power requirements gave it a longer battery life, making it ideal for mobile devices. Apple’s success bred imitation from Google with their AndroidOS, Microsoft with their updates to Windows for mobile, and others.

As mobile devices — phones, tablets, and the like — become more common and more intregral in daily life, Apple and others will need to learn to balance features and power so that devices can do more for longer without requiring onerous charging regimens or carrying multiple extra batteries.

Do you use an iOS device? Are you planning to install this update sooner or will you wait until later? Let us know in the comments below!

Wednesday Recipes: Apple Dumpling Edition

Today is Apple Dumpling Day so, in honor of the occasion, we have a couple of great apple dumpling recipes for you to add to your repertoire. Apple dumplings make great desserts and treats and are both delicious and healthy, making them a sure winner with moms and kids alike. They’re also relatively inexpensive and quick to make up which can help keep things happy in both the pocketbook and the patience departments!

Old Fashioned Apple Dumplings

1 recipe pastry for double-crust pie
6 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 cups water
2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Butter a 9×13 inch pan.

On a lightly floured surface, roll pastry into a large rectangle, about 24 by 16 inches. Cut into 6 square pieces. Place an apple on each pastry square with the cored opening facing upward. Cut butter into 8 pieces. Place 1 piece of butter in the opening of each apple; reserve remaining butter for sauce. Divide brown sugar between apples, poking some inside each cored opening and the rest around the base of each apple. Sprinkle cinnamon and nutmeg over the apples.

With slightly wet fingertips, bring one corner of pastry square up to the top of the apple, then bring the opposite corner to the top and press together. Bring up the two remaining corners, and seal. Slightly pinch the dough at the sides to completely seal in the apple. Repeat with the remaining apples. Place in prepared baking dish.

In a saucepan, combine water, white sugar, vanilla extract and reserved butter. Place over medium heat, and bring to a boil in a large saucepan. Boil for 5 minutes, or until sugar is dissolved. Carefully pour over dumplings.

Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes. Place each apple dumpling in a dessert bowl, and spoon some sauce over the top.

Country Apple Dumplings

2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored
2 (10 ounce) cans refrigerated crescent roll dough
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle Mountain Dew

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish.

Cut each apple into 8 wedges and set aside. Separate the crescent roll dough into triangles. Roll each apple wedge in crescent roll dough starting at the smallest end. Pinch to seal and place in the baking dish.

Melt butter in a small saucepan and stir in the sugar and cinnamon. Pour over the apple dumplings. Pour Mountain Dew™ over the dumplings.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown.

Self-Driving Cars in Cali and the Internet of Things

One of today’s big stories is that this is the first day that self-driving cars (like the Google Streetcar) are now legal in California. As one of the most populous states in the union, California permitting self-driving cars is a pretty big deal.

Self-driving cars are the latest (and arguably the largest) step in the Internet of Things. I’m sure that just about everyone out there has come across or even purchased items that had built-in WiFi and Internet capability even when there seemed to be no reason for it. Items such as toasters, blenders, thermostats, ovens, refrigerators, and many other housewares. Many of these objects in the Internet of Things come with smartphone or tablet apps that can be used to control them at a distance or to set up automated schedules (such as setting your AC or heat to come on a few hours before you return from a week-long trip out of town). Many more modern cars are coming with features that allow partial control of things like the climate controls or sound controls via a tablet or smartphone. Televisions have almost all become “smart” in the past three years. And, while it will be a while before a “smart” kitchen can cook its own breakfast without some kind of elaborate Rube Goldberg machine, automation and network integration can make it easier to set up and then remotely control meal preparation and cooking.

Not exactly a smart refrigerator
So, where do self-driving cars fit in to this? That remains to be seen. Though the Internet of Things is still very small compared to the Internet of People, it is growing and the next few years will no doubt hold many interesting developments as man and machine become more heavily integrated into each others’ existence.

What do you think? Would you have a self-driving car? Or a “smart” kitchen in your house? Let us know in the comments below!

Motion Picture Mondays — Doctor Who: Listen

Motion Picture Mondays -- Doctor Who: Listen

Today we are kicking off a new addition to our blog-lineup: Motion Picture Mondays. From now on, every Monday we’ll be talking about a particular TV show, movie, or even machinima. This week, we’re going to start with one that had a lot of people talking Saturday and Sunday. Yes, it is the latest episode of Doctor Who — Listen.

I don’t want to spoil this one for anyone who hasn’t had the chance to see it (and trust me, you want to see it) so I’ll keep my remarks brief. This was a very Moffat episode with all of the spine-tingling chills and spooky moments you’ll find in his best episodes (who else still finds themselves counting the shadows after watching Silence in the Library and The Forest of the Dead?) but with a little bit more emphasis on the Doctor’s past and the ways that fear has influenced him throughout his life. There were many call-outs back to the episodes of yesteryear with quotes pulled from the Fourth, Third, and First Doctor eras. While I’m still getting used to Capaldi as the Doctor, last night was really the first time we got to see just how he is going to make his mark on the character and how he is incorporating the quirks and charms of earlier regenerations (such as Eleven and Ten’s childlike wonder at everything and Nine’s almost-reckless happy-go-lucky attitude).

All in all, a great episode with solid performances from Jenna Coleman (Clara) and Peter Capaldi. This one is definitely on my re-watch list right under The Wire and Blink. Five thumbs-up, easily.

What shows would you like us to review in the future? Feel free to make your suggestions in the comments below!

Wrapping Up the Week

This week has been a very busy and eventful week in the world of technology. Apple announced its new Apple Watch and iPhone 6 this week which is still being discussed all over the Internet. Destiny launched and made a huge splash with its record-breaking day one sales. Scientists managed to create a crude form of telepathy. Microsoft has egg on its face with NFL coaches calling its tablet an “iPad” and Google and Apple (among others) are back in court to refuse the court-ordered settlement in their worker poaching case.

All of these stories and more were featured on our Twitter feed this week. However, if you aren’t following us on Twitter then we’ll recap the highlights for you below.

That’s all for this week, folks. Have a great weekend and we’ll see you again next week!

Remembering 9/11 and the Birth of the Blogosphere

Remembering 9/11 and the Birth of the Blogosphere

For those of us who were old enough to be aware of what was going on back on September 11, 2001, our memories of that day are clear. We can remember watching the events unfold on television. The Internet, still fairly new but no longer the domain of universities and computer nerds. Cell phones were common but the first consumer-adapted smartphone was six years in the future. Radio, broadcast television, and the big media empires from the twentieth century were still the only real players in the news game back then. While some bloggers, such as Instapundit, were covering the events of the day and the reactions of the nascent blogosphere, it would be several more years before blogs began to seriously compete against the more traditional news reporting sources.

No one could really believe what they were seeing even as the news stations played and replayed the same video repeatedly. Where two years earlier, people had turned to a site like Slashdot to voice their thoughts on Columbine, very few news sites in 2001 had comments sections. So, people began to start their own websites. Platforms like Blogger, WordPress, and MoveableType exploded in the months that followed as the big news sites like CNN and MSNBC continued to buckle under the load of high traffic and poor design.

Many of us wound up relying more on blogs for updates since they were using the old-school methods of talking to people on the ground in NYC and DC to find out what had actually happened and what was going on at the moment. Since these were sites that the owners generally paid for themselves, they were more reliable in up-time since they weren’t trying to serve a million ads or a lot of fancy graphics back in the era when dial-up was still far more common than broadband. Sites like “Live from the WTC” launched the newest generation of journalists and began putting pressure on the big broadcasters to change their coverage and their formats and to become more web-friendly.

9/11 had a lot of repercussions that are still being felt politically, socially, and economically. It was a major event in our history and one that should not be forgotten. What are your thoughts about this day? Let us know in the comments below.

Photo by: Kim Carpenter

Wednesday Recipes: Sushi Edition

Wednesday Recipes: Sushi Edition

Sushi isn’t for everyone, we know. Some people can’t fathom the idea of eating uncooked fish. However, sushi dishes are very popular in many places and, when prepared correctly, are not only safe to eat but are very delicious and healthy. So, if you’ve been curious about how to make sushi because you want to give it a try or introduce it to someone who has sworn they’ll never eat it, we have a couple of recipes for you below!

Sushi Roll

2/3 cup uncooked short-grain white rice
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 sheets nori seaweed sheets
1/2 cucumber, peeled, cut into small strips
2 tablespoons pickled ginger
1 avocado
1/2 pound imitation crab meat, flaked

In a medium saucepan, bring 1 1/3 cups water to a boil. Add rice, and stir. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. In a small bowl, mix the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. Blend the mixture into the rice.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). On a medium baking sheet, heat nori in the preheated oven 1 to 2 minutes, until warm.

Center one sheet nori on a bamboo sushi mat. Wet your hands. Using your hands, spread a thin layer of rice on the sheet of nori, and press into a thin layer. Arrange 1/4 of the cucumber, ginger, avocado, and imitation crab meat in a line down the center of the rice. Lift the end of the mat, and gently roll it over the ingredients, pressing gently. Roll it forward to make a complete roll. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Cut each roll into 4 to 6 slices using a wet, sharp knife.

California Roll

1 cup uncooked short-grain white rice
1 cup water
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon white sugar
1/2 cup imitation crabmeat, finely chopped
1/4 cup mayonnaise
8 sheets nori (dry seaweed)
2 1/2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 cucumber, cut into thin spears
2 avocados – pitted, peeled, and sliced the long way

Wash the rice in several changes of water until the rinse water is no longer cloudy, drain well, and place in a covered pan or rice cooker with 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cover the pan. Allow the rice to simmer until the top looks dry, about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, and let stand for 10 minutes to absorb the rest of the water.

Mix the rice vinegar and sugar in a small bowl until the sugar has dissolved, and stir the mixture into the cooked rice until well combined. Allow the rice to cool, and set aside.

Mix the imitation crabmeat with mayonnaise in a bowl, and set aside. To roll the sushi, cover a bamboo rolling mat with plastic wrap. Lay a sheet of nori, shiny side down, on the plastic wrap. With wet fingers, firmly pat a thin, even layer of prepared rice over the nori, leaving 1/4 inch uncovered at the bottom edge of the sheet. Sprinkle the rice with about 1/2 teaspoon of sesame seeds, and gently press them into the rice. Carefully flip the nori sheet over so the seaweed side is up.

Place 2 or 3 long cucumber spears, 2 or 3 slices of avocado, and about 1 tablespoon of imitation crab mixture in a line across the nori sheet, about 1/4 from the uncovered edge. Pick up the edge of the bamboo rolling sheet, fold the bottom edge of the sheet up, enclosing the filling, and tightly roll the sushi into a cylinder about 1 1/2 inch in diameter. Once the sushi is rolled, wrap it in the mat and gently squeeze to compact it tightly.

Cut each roll into 1 inch pieces with a very sharp knife dipped in water.

Science Creates Telepathy

Science Creates Telepathy

Science has been doing all kinds of great things in the realm of medicine over the past couple of years. Prosthesis have been one area that has seen the benefits of many of these improvements in our understanding of the nervous system. Thought-controlled and mind-controlled devices that receive input from the nervous system have become more common, somewhat cheaper, and more reliable.

But just recently, science was able to create telepathy, of sorts. Right now, it’s limited to simple words and relies on a slower-than-speech programming and hardware set-up but it shows some promise. The device and technology used in the article could eventually lead to treatments that would allow ALS patients or people suffering from locked-in syndrome to communicate with the rest of the world. They could maybe, depending on how the software works and how the interface “interprets” the currents it picks up and decides what word to use, be the early stages of a true Star Trek style universal translator. Not only could it, potentially, translate human languages but if we were ever to meet aliens, it might allow us to communicate with them more quickly than relying on some kind of Rosetta stone.

Science and technology do so many useful things to improve people’s lives. Frequently, we talk about various gadgets here or we talk about law and current issues facing the tech industry. However, it’s nice to sit down and see an article about a pretty far-out concept (telepathy) that science is making possible and doing it in such a way that it could vastly improve the lives of everyone on Earth without being another “oh, hey, gee whiz isn’t this cool?” thing.

What do you think? What are some technological improvements that you’d like to see roll out soon? Let us know in the comments below!

Wrapping Up the Week

Wrapping Up the Week

Another Friday brings us to the end of another interesting week in the world of technology and general geekery. This week has seen announcements and news stories on topics from cyber warfare to security to some of the latest gadgets slated to come out on the market this holiday season. There have been drives to get students more interested in the STEM subjects in hopes of bringing up a new generation of engineers and pioneers in software and hardware. Apple and Samsung are still bickering like an old married couple over patents. And several phone carriers are getting slapped down over violating their customers’ privacy rights.

All of these stories and more were featured on our Twitter feed this week. However, if you’re not following us on Twitter, then we’ll recap the highlights for you below!

That’s all for this week, everyone. Have a great weekend and we’ll see you again next week!